The southern states of India are a world away from the chaos and hustle and bustle of the larger cities to the north. It’s as if time slows down here, life is relaxed and it is almost like things run to ‘island time’ despite the fact you are not on an island.
Here are some of the lesser known experiences in Southern India we think you should add to your list.
5. Experience the mystical sand dunes of Talakkad
Talakkad is the stuff that legends are made of. A historical site located in Chamarajanagar, Karnataka, near the banks of the Kaveri River, Talakkad once possessed the pride of thirty temples that now lie buried under sand. Of the temples that have been shrouded under dust with time, the five lingams of the Pathaleshwara, Maruleshwara, Arkeshwara, Vaidyanatheswara and Mallikarjuna temples are considered to represent the five faces of Shiva – the God of Annihilation in Hindu mythology. The Panchalinga Darshana Fair is held every 12 years in honour of these five Shiva temples. The fair was last held in 2009.
4. Explore Mathur
An idyllic village on the banks of the beautiful Tunga River, Mathur is one of the lesser-known beauties of Karnataka. As if that weren’t enough, Mathur also has the distinction of its residents using the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit for their day-to-day communication! The Gamaka art, a form of singing and storytelling in Sanskrit exclusive to Karnataka, is still preserved and protected thanks to the living use of Sanskrit – the language that is often called the language of the Gods. The Someshwara Temple , Rama Mandira and Lakshmikeshava Temple are some of the must-sees to explore while you visit here.
3. Visit the Magnificent floating pillar of Lepakshi
An important archaeological site, Lepakshi is a famous temple dedicated to the Lord Veerabhadra – an incarnation of Lord Shiva. Famous for its breathtaking architecture and painting, Lepakshi is situated in the Ananthapur district of Andhra Pradesh. The highlights include frescoes of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata that are depicted on the ceilings of the temple. Rendered in the Lepakshi style, these paintings are unique to say the least. The carvings on the pillars are also bound to hold your attention, as will the incredible fact that a single pillar is believed to have been holding the weight of the entire temple on itself!
2. Visit Chembra Lake in Wayanad
A heart-shaped lake atop of a beautiful hill – how romantic can things get? To find out, head out to Chembra Peak, the highest peak in Wayanad, Kerala at 6900ft above sea level. Chembra is also part of the Wayanad Hill Rranges in the Western Ghats mountain range. To literally get high on love, Chembra Lake is the place to experience!
1. Ethipthala Falls in Andhra Pradesh
A 70 foot high river cascade, a gushing waterfall that is a combination of three rivulets. The word ‘Etithapothal’ is a combination of two Sanskrit words – ethi or yethi which means monks and thapothal meaning penance. A scenic experience that is quite unparalleled, the place also boasts a crocodile breeding centre in the lagoon formed by the falls. The Ranganatha and Dattatreya Temples that are in the vicinity are definitely worth a visit.
Want to discover India a little deeper? Check our range of unique small group tours!
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.